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article imageThis tiny USB stick lets you get started with AI for $79

By James Walker     Jul 21, 2017 in Technology
A new USB stick offers everything you need to get started with neural computing development for just $79. Created by Movidius, an AI startup now owned by Intel, the Neural Compute Stick aims to "democratize" deep learning so everyone can access it.
Movidius first demonstrated the device last year. Shortly afterwards, Intel started enquiring about the company and a formal acquisition was announced. Today, Intel and Movidius jointly launched the product, bringing a USB-based deep learning development kit to AI researchers and makers.
The stick includes a software suite that lets developers working in deep learning get started building neural networks. Priced at just $79 and compatible with Ubuntu-based Linux computers, it dramatically lowers the entry barriers to writing AI-enhanced apps.
Intel and Movidius intend the small form factor and low cost to be a significant step forward to the democratization of AI. AI democratization is an increasingly hot topic that's seeking to make research in the field more open and accessible.
Movidius Neural Compute Stick
Movidius Neural Compute Stick
Intel / Movidius
The vast computing power and financial resources currently required to develop AI have made it a technology available only to established tech giants. This threatens to create an ecosystem which startups, independent researchers and hobbyist programmers are unable to facilitate in, undermining AI as a transparent technology.
While Intel itself is one of the Silicon Valley firms dominating AI research, it used the Movidius launch to stress it's "committed" to giving smaller developers access to neural networks. As a sign of its interest in making the tech accessible, the Movidius' price has been lowered from $99 at its original unveiling to just $79. The $20 price reduction was apparently pushed for and enabled by Intel.
"As more developers adopt advanced machine learning approaches to build innovative applications and solutions, Intel is committed to providing the most comprehensive set of development tools and resources to ensure developers are retooling for an AI-centric digital economy," said Intel.
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The opportunities offered by the Movidius Neural Compute Stick shouldn't be underestimated. Independent developers and researchers don't need or want supercomputer resources to establish their project. The Neural Compute Stick consumes just one watt of power and comes with software tools to simplify development. Multiple sticks can be joined together in USB hubs to increase performance.
The device is available from today through partner distributors of Movidius and Intel. The base price is $79 but this may vary between individual regions and retailers.
More about movidius, Intel, neural networks, Ai, Artificial intelligence
 
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